Central Valley Farmworkers from the Bracero Program to the end of the 20th Century: Work and Life
Date of Submission
Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Professor Tamara Venit-Shelton
2023 Mayeli E Santos
In recent years, there has been a lot of historical scholarship on the Chicano Movement and the United Farm Workers struggle especially pertaining to its politics, social organization, and representations in the media. Yet scholars have still not fully explored the cultural history of migrant workers nor their inner lives during the 20th century. Most historical narratives about farmworkers include the Bracero Program and the Farmworkers Movement, but lack the personal background of their lives. This work is important because it answers the history within the personal lives of farmworkers. They are not a monolith and simplifying their lives with just their labor minimizes their humanity. I want to answer the contributions of farmworkers in California's agriculture and their worries and passions. I used interviews, poetry, songs, and secondary sources to describe the historical background of farmworkers, and their lives in the fields and at home.
The essay establishes farmworkers as multidimensional beings, that lives difficult but fruitful lives. Without this type of scholarship, keeping vulnerable communities hidden leaves put them in precarious positions. Mysterious communities are easy to target and create degrading stereotypes. It is more difficult to take advantage of people when you recognize them as children and parents. It is also important to center oral histories from farmworkers themselves. Farmworkers are more than aware of their position in society and can speak to the injustices thrust upon them. Farmworkers can be their own advocate and their lives are important to know.
Santos, Mayeli, "Central Valley Farmworkers from the Bracero Program to the end of the 20th Century: Work and Life" (2023). CMC Senior Theses. 3272.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.